Roll of Honour

Captain

James Barbour Orr

James Barbour Orr was born in 1883 in Kilmaurs, East Ayrshire, and was the son of Robert Clark Orr and Annie Boyd. Robert was a quarry owner, while Annie was the daughter of another quarry master. James grew up with six siblings, one being the acclaimed nutritionist and physiologist John Boyd Orr.

Memorial chapel at the University of Glasgow
The Memorial Chapel at the University of Glasgow

James first matriculated at the University of Glasgow in 1905, taking classes in History and Mathematics. Resits in both subjects delayed his entry to second year, however by 1907 James had met the requirements to continue, and took classes in English and Natural Philosophy. In his final year James took classes in Latin, Moral Philosophy, and Political Economy – these subjects were usually indicative of a student undertaking further training in Theology, and this is exactly the path James followed. Despite not officially graduating, James completed his training at the Free Church College in Edinburgh, before becoming a Minister for The Shettleston Free Church of Glasgow.

At the outbreak of war in September 1914, James enlisted in the 9th Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry, which was to be the start of a successful military career. He was commissioned to 2nd Lieutenant of the Royal Scots Fusiliers on the 28th of September 1915, and then subsequently promoted to Lieutenant. He was made a Captain in December 1916. James was married in February 1917, to Joan Livingston at his home in Saltcoats.

James served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from October 1916. He was killed at Ypres on the 31st July 1917, while leading his company. He is buried near the Menin Road, and is remembered on the Ypres Memorial at Menin Gate.

James was described by his Commanding Officer as “a particularly useful officer; the men were devoted to him, and would have followed him anywhere; he was killed while gallantly leading his company forward in the front line of the attack”. He was described by another officer as “one of the ablest and best officers that were with the battalion, a most popular man with all ranks; an officer whom the men loved and would follow anywhere”.

Comments and Citations

University of Glasgow Registry Records: Matriculation Books (R8/5/26/6, R8/5/28/6), Abandoned Student Schedule (R6/74)

Commonwealth War Graves Commission.